Friday, May 13, 2016

Religion, Politics, and Breast Feeding vs Formula Feeding

"He drinks formula AND breast milk, and he still loves me just the same."
It was our first date. I looked across the table over my craft beer at him and asked, “So, were you breast fed as a baby?” He looked at me strangely and then said. “Ummm…. I don't know actually, why?” and I responded, “Well because if you weren't exclusively breastfed as a baby, then I simply cannot date you.” Haha!! Could you imagine? (editor's note: this did NOT actually happen, and although my husband already thinks I'm weird enough, I most certainly think this would have scared him away on our first date)

To be honest, I never knew that breast-feeding was as controversial of a topic as religion and politics until I became pregnant myself. It was only then that I figured I should start doing some research about the benefits of breast feeding versus formula feeding my baby. I didn't have much to go off of besides that I think my mom breastfed me. Or did she? I guess I never even asked. Does it really matter?? It obviously never did, until I became pregnant myself. For some reason, however, these days society says it does matter. Well I'm here to tell you that as a new mom myself, I’ve already struggled with the “guilt” of the idea of having to transition my 3 month old to formula, because I can no longer pump enough at work to meet his growing little body’s needs. Should I really have to feel this way?

The other day I stood in my kitchen at the counter. I looked over both my shoulders as if I was expecting some lactation consultant to come up behind me and start screaming at me (editor's note: this is nothing against lactation consultants, as I know they play very important roles to some, so please do not take my joke offensively if you have benefitted from using them!). I felt like I was doing something wrong as I dipped that little scoop cup and pulled out a small scoop of formula. I poured it into the bottle, shook it up, and there it was- that little pang of guilt. Why? Why am I feeling guilty about this? I am not doing anything wrong. I am not harming my baby in any way. In fact, I am doing what is best for both him and myself.

When my son was just seven weeks old, I had to return to work. I had been successfully breast-feeding for the first seven weeks of his life and figured I should try to keep doing so as long as I could. On my first day back to work, I threw my pump in my work bag and off I went. To be honest, I hated pumping. From the first moment I attached those cold cones to my breasts, I hated everything about it (aside from the fact that I was able to feed my baby MY milk while I was away). The first few weeks, things went really well. I was pumping enough milk for him to eat the next day while I was away at work. But then one day, things changed. I wasn't pumping enough at work anymore. I was only getting enough for one bottle the next day instead of two. Feelings of stress, anxiety, and guilt washed over me every single day as I went to work, tried to pump, and didn't make enough for the next day. I was failing. I was letting down my baby. Or was I?

I headed to the mom group (shoutout to my girls!) I am a part of on Facebook, scoured the Internet for mommy blogs, and called the pediatrician for advice. I had many mixed opinions on what I should do: try power pumping. Eat more. Drink more water. Do this. Do that. Everything that was suggested, aside from eating more and drinking more (ha), sounded like awful ideas to me. The ideas themselves weren’t awful, but the thought of having to spend more time pumping when I could instead be spending those precious moments with my baby who I was already away from nine hours a day sounded miserable to me.

So there I stood at the kitchen counter pouring powder into his bottle, hoping nobody saw me. Well guys, the secret’s out. My baby is now both breast-fed and formula fed. I started supplementing his bottles with formula so that he could get the nutrition that he needed while I was away at work. And guess what? He is still alive. He's healthy. He's happy. He still loves me. He will drink from a bottle AND from me. And you know what else? I'm happier. I'm less stressed. I enjoy my time both away from and with my baby more than I did before. While the transition wasn't easy at first, those feelings of guilt, stress, and anxiety quickly dissipated when I realized that it's not about what everyone else wants me to do. It's about what's best for me and my baby. Now you do your thing, and I’ll do mine. No judgment here. You love your baby, and I’ll love mine. He drinks formula AND breast milk, and he still loves me just the same.

Oh, and for the record, I’m still not sure if my husband was breastfed or formula fed, and it doesn’t really matter.

with faith, love, & coffee,

kellie ann
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